Saturday 01 April 2023

Growth in international student numbers slows, more Dutch take a gap year

The library at Delft University. Photo:

The number of international students at Dutch universities and hbo colleges has risen by 7.3% this academic year, according to new figures from student service office Duo.

There are now some 85,000 international students registered in the Netherlands, compared with just 12,500 in the 2005 academic year and they account for around one third of all first years – at both bachelor and master level.

However, growth has slowed from the 12-15% recorded several years ago.

MPs and big city universities have called for measures to stem the number of international students, saying that the quality of education is a risk. MPs also want more courses to be taught in Dutch.

Education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf is due to publish his plans shortly. ‘We have to better manage the influx,’ his spokeswoman told Trouw on Tuesday. ‘We have to maximise the benefits, such as attracting international talent, and minimize the downsides, such as the pressure on teaching staff.’

Gap year

The new figures also show that many of last year’s Dutch school leavers deferred starting a college or university degree in favour of a gap year. This may be down to the government’s decision to reintroduce grants for all students from this September.

Some 67% of the teenagers who completed their pre-university school education last year have started a degree, compared with 72-75% in recent years before grants were re-established.

From the next academic year, students who live out will be entitled to a basic grant of €275 a month, while those who live at home can claim €110.

Study points

Dijkgraaf is also planning to scrap first year course requirements which mean new students have to pass a certain number of modules to continue with their studies, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Monday evening.

The minister is said to believe the requirement that students earn at least 45 course points in their first year is placing too much stress on them.

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